How many times have your company invested large amount of resources on major projects or ideas but they dont' generate the expected results just because they were not implemented correctly or promoted enough?
This is a reality in many organizations and eLearning projects are no exception. If you want an eLearning initiative to work, marketing your project internally is fundamental. It doesn’t matter how awesome your eLearning courses are, if they aren’t promoted to the right people, and these people don’t complete them, it’s basically a waste of time and resources.
If you build e-Learning courses and expect people to just take them, will they do? Studies
show that they generally won't.
Here are nine steps you can take to make sure you can influence target learners to come:
Step 1: Set your goals
Now that you're committed to adopting eLearning into your training strategy (or improving the training strategy you already have), let's talk about what you hope to achieve. First step—like any other effort—is setting a specific goal. What are you trying to accomplish by including eLearning?
Goals are at the heart of your project, and selecting the right ones can make or break your adoption or implementation strategy in your company. Establish goals that meet the SMART methodology:
- Specific (Specific)
- Measurable (measurable)
- Achievable (Achievable)
- Realistic (Realistic)
- Timed (Programmable)
Step 2: Consider your audience
Determine who your audience is going to be, what are their roles in the company, how many they are, what are their ages, and why they are taking the couse. Think about what is your company trying to approach with the elearning course. Is your objective to inform about a new product, educate about new company rules and politics or are you just giving a orientation course to new employees? Ask all these questions to analyze your audience, the answers will help you define the right message for the campaign and the appropriate way to transmit it.
Step 3: Branding
After defining objectives and analyzing the audience, it´s time to kick-off a marketing campaign. To create successful marketing plans follow the BAIDA methodology:
- Branding (Branding)
- Attention (Attention)
- Interest (Interest)
- Desire (Aspiration)
- Action (Action)
It’s a fact that when something new slowly leaks into your company, it is in danger of eventually being seen as irrelevant (or at least not important). Workers commonly resist putting anything new on their plates. This way, kickoff campaigns are a good way to gain awareness.
So think about what you are offering: think about your organisation, your objectives and importantly, your target audience. How could you brand your initiative? Position eLearning as a pathway to promotion? A way to make daily tasks easier? or Just a way to stay current?
Step 4: Attention
When it comes to elearning adoption, it's always better to market it in order to changing perceptions. Trying to impose a new training method can be more than harsh.
Identify what are their fears, their issues, barriers, and what are their weaknesses. Analyze these data in the context of your project and this will make it much easier for your audience to find the courses interesting no matter what they used to think.
“I didn’t know about it”, “It’s not relevant to my job”, “It doesn’t look like fun” and “I have ‘real’ work to do” are some of the common objections workers make. They are definitely a result of bad internal marketing.
Therefore, learners need to understand why they need to take the course and how eLearning can help them. No one has sold them on eLearning benefits, so you need to highlight some such as convenience, ability to revisit resources whenever they want, join interactive discussions and boards and receive live help while taking the course.
Step 5: Interest
Define the message you want to convey clearly and briefly. Note that human beings are selective; therefore it is necessary to capture your audiences’ interest quickly.
Limit your strategy in a way that it highlights’ a maximum of 5 key messages, and then relate them to the weakest areas you found in your audience. For example, if you discover that your audience is afraid they won’t be able to keep up and they’re not comfortable using computer regularly, you need to adapt your campaign to solve these issues.
Think Small: Share only a few key concepts. More is not better. Avoid the temptation to share your entire elearning adoption plan. No one is interested in all that. For everyone else, share the executive summary (objectives, description of activities, timeline, benefits, etc).
Step 6: Desire
Create a list of all the different aspirations of your audience and why would they like to start the eLearning course, in order of importance. Then, conceptualize your message in a form of an ad and devise a plan of attack to get those learners engaged.
Remember: "If e-Learning’s value proposition fails to answer the learner’s question, “What’s in it for me?” the learner is not going to buy it" (E-Learning: You Build It — Now Promote It By Jay Cross).
Step 7: Action
Make information accessible and easy to find. The more people know about the project and its benefits, the more they are going to act upon it.
Convenience: Make it as easy as possible for them to access the course; to start.
Get Seen: Become a guest speaker. Just because you are about to draft a few posters and newsletters to your audience doesn’t mean that they are going to read them or understand the implications. You need to engage your audience by making the plan visible. This means getting out in front of groups of employees to talk about the plan and answer their questions.
Step 8: Run the campaign
Which is the most effective medium to launch the campaign? What is the cost? Consider all the information gathered in the previous steps and the budget available to run the campaign.
Some options for promoting the project in your company:
- Interactive Posters
- Personalized items such as pens, t-shirts, mouse pads, etc.
- Have department open houses.
- Bring employees together for discussions on the topic.
- Deliver company news by walking and visiting each department.
- Create videos to help people learn more about the project.
- Invite representatives of the Training Department to meetings with employees.
Execute the marketing plan within a reasonable period, schedule activites with time. The secret is to be present in the audience mind constantly... send messages drop wise.
Step 9: Be constant
The goal of your project is to take your audience from a current situation or position to a future one. The only way to lead this process of change correctly is through a proper communication and marketing strategy.
A period of 9-12 months is a reasonable range to run a mixed marketing plan. This mixture can help the audience remember the message and familiarize. If you start raising awareness from the very start of the project, you’re more likely to get support from your learners.
Remember: the communication campaign doesn’t stop when you roll-out the e-learning project. It’s key to have nonstop communications to keep reminding your target of why and when they should complete the training.